Playground: Freewheeling Culinary Show in Downtown Santa Ana

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Restaurant Santa Ana

Playground is Jason Quinn's freewheeling restaurant in DTSA.

Jason Quinn, co-founder of The Lime Truck, now runs Playground, a righteous restaurant in downtown Santa Ana that hosts a family-style Sunday Supper that spans 12-15 plates and costs a bargain $40 including tax and tip.

Restaurant Sign Santa Ana

“If you want your meat well done feel free to bring your own!” Indeed.

Empanada Santa Ana

Quinn started his plate parade with a pig head empanada co-starring sauce “reminiscent of a certain glorious food chain,” In-N-Out.

Mushrooms Santa Ana

Roasted mushrooms provided a brief respite from the protein cavalcade.

Salad Santa Ana

Frisée salad incorporated fibrous watermelon radishes and citrus segments.

Chilaquiles Santa Ana

Chilaquiles hosted crumbled cotija, scallions, black beans, sweet and spicy chile sauce, and creamy guacamole.

Vegetables Santa Ana

Gailan took a savory bath with chewy rice cakes.

Cauliflower Santa Ana

Roasted cauliflower and carrots accompanied scallions and tangy tzatziki.

Pork Chop Santa Ana

“Alright, newbies!” Quinn presented his maple glazed pork chop, a meat mountain that stood six inches tall.

Polenta Santa Ana

Rich porchetta ragù and crunchy scallions washed over soupy polenta.

Ribs Santa Ana

Misoyaki pork ribs sported a sticky miso, honey and soy glaze.

Pasta Santa Ana

Quinn plated pappardelle with tri-tip ragù with pepperonata and tomato sauce.

Carbonara Santa Ana

Carbonara blanketed peas, pepper, and to the best of my memory, gnocchi.

Fried Chicken Santa Ana

Uncle Lou’s fried chicken was lightly dredged and tossed in tangy, spicy red wine vinegar, cayenne pepper and hot sauce.

Wagyu flatiron steak co-starred crispy skin-on potatoes and chimichurri.

Craft Beer Santa Ana

Playground supplements 15 craft beer taps with rare bottles.

Pastry chef Ashley Guzman presented dessert in waves.

Donut Santa Ana

A memorable cinnamon sugar donut hosted vanilla ice cream.

Dessert Santa Ana

Lime curd co-hosted Graham cracker crumbs, blueberries, and whipped cream in a Mason jar.

Dessert Santa Ana

Sticky toffee pudding arrived in syrup with powdered sugar and whipped cream.

Cheesecake Santa Ana

Three-cheese cheesecake was Guzman’s tour de force, made with mascarpone, goat cheese and Philadelphia cream cheese and plated with whipped cream, honeycomb, pine nuts, light shower of confectioner’s sugar.

One tablemate requested another cheesecake and our server said, “Would that make you feel better or worse?” Better!

I would have gladly double-ordered many dishes, but that would have run counter to Quinn’s celebration of culinary discovery. Sunday Supper was a great introduction to a full-throttle restaurant that demands that I revisit.

Playground: Freewheeling Culinary Show in Downtown Santa Ana


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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